Austin Ferrell says he grew up with a rifle in his hands, and that early hands-on experience certainly paid off at Marine Corps boot camp.
The young recruit walked away from his rifle qualification training with the highest score in the history of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina.
He scored a near-perfect 248 out of 250 on the toughest basic marksmanship challenge in the Department of Defense, the Marine Corps rifle qualification test, officials said.
“From the time I was 6, I was shooting and building firearms with my dad,” Mr. Ferrell said in a statement. “He was the one that introduced me to shooting, When I got to Parris Island, what he taught me was the reason I shot like I did.”
Before he reported to Parris Island, he said he could usually be found at a family friend’s range. He would practice shooting from distances of up to a mile.
“It’s a great pastime and it teaches you lessons that stay with you past the range,” he said.
The other recruits congratulated him afterwards, but the drill instructors weren’t inclined to let him bask in the glory of being the best shot at Parris Island.
“My drill instructors gave me a hard time for dropping those two points,” he said with a laugh.
He is scheduled to graduate Sept. 4 with Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.